MERRILLVILLE | A year after a woman was killed during an armed robbery at Lucky Mart Foods, a trial approaches for a 21-year-old Merrillville man accused of the crimes.
On March 4, 2012, Judi Simpson-Beaver, 48, of Merrillville, was shot to death during an armed robbery at the convenience store at 5695 Cleveland St.
In the days following, Jeremy K. Blue was arrested and later charged with murder, murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery.
A jury trial is scheduled to begin April 22.
Beaver's family has been trying to cope with her loss, according to a statement from her son, Zack.
"The past year has been difficult for all of us. My brother (Zebon) and I have both welcomed new children since last year. Neither of us were able to let our Mom know she was going to be a grandma again," he said.
Zack Beaver's older son, Caleb, has begun walking. Judi Simpson-Beaver had spent a lot of time with him before she was gunned down.
"It is difficult thinking about the fact that she loved him so dearly and never got to see his first steps or his words," Zack Beaver said.
Zack said he and his brother received support from their spouses — and the entire family has been thankful for the outpouring of community support
They are also thankful for the efforts of local authorities and the Lake County prosecutor's office.
"They have, in my opinion, done an excellent job in this investigation," he said. "They have seemingly left no stone unturned and have dedicated many hours of their time to solving this crime."
A probable cause affidavit states a man wearing a hockey-style mask entered the convenience store about 1 p.m. on March 4 last year.
That person displayed a handgun and pointed it at Simpson-Beaver, according to the affidavit. Simpson-Beaver complied with the man's demands for money.
The man took cash register drawers and began heading toward the store's exit, the affidavit states. He allegedly turned around, walked toward the store counter and fired a shot at Simpson-Beaver.
The affidavit states he went behind the counter and shot the woman again.
The fact his mother complied with the robber and the robber still killed her leaves Beaver's family disheartened.
"Similar to the Sandy Hook shooting, why did that madman have to be so merciless?" Zack Beaver said. "We have accepted that there are very dark evils in this world and my mom was just unfortunate enough to encounter one in the real world, instead of on TV."
A witness told police he was in the 5600 block of Cleveland Street when the robbery occurred.
The witness saw the man running away from the business with the cash drawers. The man lifted his mask and the witness saw the man's face, according to the affidavit.
The witness viewed an array of pictures and identified Blue as the masked man he saw leave the business, court documents state.
After charges were filed against Blue, police said they were seeking information about two men who were seen acting suspicious in the store minutes before the shooting.
One of the men waited at the door, while the other approached the counter, police said. The men left without making a purchase.
Along with her sons, Judi Simpson-Beaver is survived by three grandchildren, two brothers, a sister and her mother.
"My mom was always the light of the room," Zack Beaver said.
Anyone with additional information about the fatal armed robbery is asked to contact Merrillville police at (219) 769-3531.